Oxygen Production


Photosystem II utilizes visible light to drive the oxidation of water, resulting in bio‐activated electrons and protons, with the production of molecular oxygen as a byproduct. This water‐splitting reaction is carried out by a manganese cluster/tyrosine radical ensemble, the oxygen‐evolving complex.

Keywords: Kok cycles; manganese; photosystem II; tyrosine radicals; water oxidation

Figure 1.

Schematic diagram of the photosystem II reaction centre. (Figure provided by Drs Dee Ann Force and David W. Randall.)

Figure 2.

The S‐state scheme. (Figure provided by Dr Jeffrey M. Peloquin.)

Figure 3.

Manganese EPR signals of PS II. (Figure provided by Dr Kris Campbell. S0 spectrum provided by Dr Johannes Messinger.)

Figure 4.

A structural model of the oxygen evolving complex. The Mn(III) and Mn(IV) oxidation state assignments arise from simulations of the S2 state multiline EPR spectrum. (Figure provided by Dr Jeffrey M. Peloquin.)



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Campbell KA, Peloquin JM, Pham DP, Debus RJ and Britt RD (1998) Parallel polarization epr detection of an S1‐state ‘multiline’ epr signal in photosystem II particles from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Journal of the American Chemical Society 120: 447–448.

Caudle MT and Pecoraro VL (1997) Thermodynamic viability of hydrogen atom transfer from water coordinated to the oxygen‐evolving complex of photosystem II. Journal of the American Chemical Society 119: 3415–3416.

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Gilchrist ML, Ball JA, Randall DW and Britt RD (1995) Proximity of the manganese cluster of photosystem II to the redox active tyrosine YZ. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 92: 9545–9549.

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Messinger J, Robblee JH, Yu WO, Sauer K, Yachandra VK and Klein MP (1997) The S0 state of the oxygen‐evolving complex in photosystem II is paramagnetic: detection of an epr multiline signal. Journal of the American Chemical Society 119: 11349–11350.

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Yachandra VK, DeRose VJ, Latimer MJ, Mukerji I, Sauer K and Klein MP (1993) Where plants make oxygen: a structural model for the photosynthetic oxygen‐evolving manganese cluster. Science 260: 675–679.

Further Reading

Barry BA and Babcock GT (1987) Tyrosine radicals are involved in the photosynthetic oxygen‐evolving system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 84: 7099–7103.

Berthold DA, Babcock GT and Yocum CF (1980) A highly resolved, oxygen‐evolving photosystem II preparation from spinach thylakoid membranes. FEBS Letters 134: 231–234.

Britt RD (1996) Oxygen evolution. In: Ort DR and Yocum CF (eds) Advances in Photosynthesis: Oxygenic Photosynthesis, The Light Reactions, pp. 137–164. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic.

Britt RD (1996) Electron spin echo methods in photosynthesis research. In: Hoff AJ and Amesz J (eds) Advances in Photosynthesis: Biophysical Techniques in Photosynthesis, pp. 235–253. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic.

Debus RJ (1992) The manganese and calcium ions of photosynthetic oxygen evolution. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1102: 269–352.

Diner BA and Babcock GT (1996) Structure, dynamics, and energy conversion efficiency in photosystem II. In: Ort DR and Yocum CF (eds) Advances in Photosynthesis: Oxygenic Photosynthesis, The Light Reactions, pp. 213–247. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic.

Kok B, Forbush B and McGloin M (1970) Cooperation of charges in photosynthetic O2 evolution–I. A linear four step mechanism. Photochemistry and Photobiology 11: 457–475.

Sauer K, Yachandra VK, Britt RD and Klein MP (1992) The photosynthetic water oxidation complex studied by epr and x‐ray absorption spectroscopy. In: Pecoraro VL (ed.) Manganese Redox Enzymes, pp. 141–175. New York: VCH.

Yachandra VK, Sauer K and Klein MP (1996) Manganese cluster in photosynthesis: where plants oxidize water to dioxygen. Chemical Reviews 96: 2927–2950.

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Britt, R David(Apr 2001) Oxygen Production. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001384]